The Ruins Of Beverast - Blood Vaults (The Blazing Gospel Of Heinrich Kramer) review

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Band: The Ruins Of Beverast
Album: Blood Vaults (The Blazing Gospel Of Heinrich Kramer)
Release date: September 2013

01. Apologia
02. Daemon
03. Malefica
04. Ornaments On Malice
05. Spires, The Wailing City
06. A Failed Exorcism
07. Trial
08. Ordeal
09. Monument

If you're one who pays close attention to the wretched cries of the metal underground, The Ruins Of Beverast, brainchild of ex-Nagelfar drummer Alexander Von Meilenwald, is probably a band on your radar. Bursting onto the scene with the powerful Unlock The Shrine in 2004, this impressive black metal one manner quickly proved itself a force to be reckoned with with its subsequent releases. 2009's Foulest Semen Of A Sheltered Elite took things to the next level, merging a sizable dose of doom into the mixing and making an already gloomy sound even more ominous and mesmerizing. For better or worse, however, the next step from there was a bit of a bump in the road.

Blood Vaults, the fourth full length from The Ruins Of Beverast, is an ambitious release if nothing else. A concept album about Heinrich Kramer, a 15th century German Inquisitor obsessed with unearthing witches, it is likely the most thematically intense ROB album to date. As a result, the music here goes for a more "epic," theatrical type of feel, as an attempt to parallel the increased grandiosity of the lyrical subject matter. For the most part this is an effort that Von Meilenwald succeeds at. The atmospheric, sort of neoclassical elements ("churchy" sounds like organ and choir) of earlier albums are brought out here more than ever before, most notably on "Trial." Additionally the riffing continues from Foulest in the sense of being more oriented toward a doom approach than toward black metal, helping to create a more ritualistic, entrancing mood with its repetition and more stripped down structure.

Unfortunately, however, Blood Vaults seems to falter in some areas, leaving a lot more to be desired than the first three ROB albums did. This may be possibly owed to the fact that, as mentioned, thematically there's a lot going on here with this album, essentially meaning that there are too many lyrical ideas with too few musical ideas to back them up and balance out both sides of the coin. The first four tracks here are easily the strongest, particularly "Daemon" and "Malefica," but towards the album's middle and especially nearing the end, things really start to lag a bit and create an impression of redundancy. This is probably due to the fact that Blood Vaults sees an even greater increase in the doom to black metal ratio than Foulest; really the only bursts of that frantic BM energy you get here are on the beginning of "Daemon" and the entire "Ordeal" track, and other than that, things plod along at a mid-to-low tempo, doomy pace. If there was a little more variation in speed here, no doubt this would translate to a greater sense of mood variation as well, helping to make things a little more interesting.

Admittedly, there are many things that Von Meilenwald is doing right on Blood Vaults, and the few things he's doing not so well are really rather minimal. But when compared against the massively impressive first three albums of the ROB discog, it's enough to make this album a lot less impactful and slightly disappointing. Against those albums, Blood Vaults doesn't really seem to have as much stylistic variation across its tracks. It doesn't go out on that final high note like Unlock The Shrine did with "The Mine" or Foulest with "Arcane Pharmakon Messiah," and the clean vocals here, drenched in a strange sort of echoey reverb, are a major step down from the more operatic, resplendent approach employed on Foulest. But having said all that, even if a little unimpressive when one considers what came before it, Blood Vaults still carries some powerful instrumentation and a great sense of atmosphere. At the end of the day, a "slightly disappointing" album from The Ruins Of Beverast is still probably better than what most other extreme doom bands out there would put out on their best days.

And when he doth transgress, he doth with fervency
And as he doth transgress... will ye unmask his messengers?

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8
Production: 7


Written on 05.05.2017 by Comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable since 2013.

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